Declaration on Estonian Sovereignty

Estonian Supreme Soviet, Declaration in Respect of the Sovereignty of the Estonian SSR. November 16, 1988

The Estonian People have tilled their land here, on the shores of the Baltic Sea, and developed their culture for over 5,000 years. In 1940, the relatively homogenous people–approximately 94 percent Estonian within today’s boundaries, with cultural autonomy for many minority nations–and the sovereign Estonian state were incorporated into the Soviet Union. The guarantees of sovereignty were at that time thought to be preserved, as was the flowering of the nation. The internal policy under Stalinism and in the stagnation period ignored those aims fixed by the Constitution. As a result, in Estonia an unfavorable situation has developed demographically for Estonians, who are the indigenous population on Estonian land, the natural environment in many regions of the republic has fallen into a catastrophic state, and the continuing destabilization in the economy is having a negative effect on the living standard of the entire population.

To overcome the crisis, the Estonian SSR Supreme Soviet sees but one specific path: the further development of Estonia must take place under conditions of sovereignty. The sovereignty of the Estonian Republic means that, through its supreme bodies of power and administration and judicial bodies, it wields supreme power in its territory. The sovereignty of the Estonian republic is one and indivisible. According to this, the future status of the republic within the Soviet Union could be determined by the Union contract.

The Estonian SSR Supreme Soviet does not agree with those amendments and additions to the USSR Constitution proposed by the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet that exclude the constitutional right of the Estonian SSR to self-determination. Relying on international pacts regarding economic, social, cultural, and civil and political rights of 16 September 1966 which have also been ratified by the Soviet Union, and relying also on other norms of international rights, the top organ of the Estonian SSR people’s power-the Estonian SSR Supreme Soviet-declares the priority of its laws over Estonian SSR territory before USSR laws, until the Union contract is concluded.

Changes in and additions to the USSR Constitution will henceforth go into effect on the territory of the Estonian Republic after they have been approved by the Estonian Republic Supreme Soviet and corresponding changes in and additions to the Estonian Republic Constitution have been made.

The Estonian SSR Supreme Soviet appeals to all those people who have linked their fate with the Estonian land to consolidate for the purpose of building a democratic and socialist Estonian society. The juridical and factual implementation of sovereignty means at the same time that the Estonian people will not in the future agree to any law that discriminates against the representatives of any other nationality who live in Estonia.

Source: Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Daily Report, U.S. Dept. of Commerce; National Technical Information Service, 1988.

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